On the technical side Apple is behind the competition.
Yes. It is.
This is an unfortunate fact.
Accept it. Live with it. But most importantly, understand why.
It does not mean in any way that, for you, it is an inferior product –this is very important and at the end it is your own subjective opinion that really matters- but, it does mean that they are lacking in features and function on an objective sense.
Pushing iOS is my next project, looking at the platform, understanding it and its users and of course finding ways to improve/push the platform without breaking the very difficult Apple balance.I call this intro “The Competition” because whatever new product that comes out and, even knowing the fact that iOS is behind Android, everything else is considered “the competition”. There is this thing where we treat the iPhone and iOS as the center and whatever comes out is just another thing around it; however great it is. This is something quite interesting when we think about it and I want to understand that whole ideology. The top image you see is actually from the main research.
This piece is separate from the main “Pushing iOS” research I’m working on because, even if that information is relevant to the project, it is not necessary to integrate it with the main piece. On top of that, thousands of words about what sucks on Apple’s camp and the “greatness” if I may say that the other platforms has to offer is kind of a way to assure a higher number of hate comments and death threats from Apple fans.
All right, let’s look at the competition!
Android is filled with features (I am always talking about Stock Android, for me anything that modifies the OS (including a simple skin) is not Android and a separate fork of it). The design, organization and performance/stability of the OS, which have been the negative aspects of Android for so long, are getting so much better so fast. Android KitKat and the Nexus program gives us a clear idea of where Android is going and I have to say that it is quite nice. The OS is filled with features, I insist on that. You can change everything, do anything and your phone/tablet is entirely yours to do whatever you want with from the way it looks to the way it works deep inside. The majority of Google’s stuff, compared to Apple, can sync and go on the majority of device (with some exceptions) thus liberating you from one closed world. What is even better is that the app selection is rapidly matching Apple’s incredible App Store with the majority of new apps launching for both platforms. On the tablet side of things, Android tablets offer a great balance between price and features with that huge platform openness.
The big thing about Android that really sets it apart are the Homescreens. They are filled with Widgets, a tiny application that gives you information and control directly from the home screens of your device without launching anything at all. This is the big differentiator of Android since you can basically do a LOT of actions without ever launching any applications directly from the highly customizable screens that Android gives you.
On Microsoft’s side, the story is a bit different. Microsoft have a tight control over the Windows Phone experience. It’s kind of weird because Microsoft is playing Apple’s game in term of control, but playing Google’s by making it available to other device makers. Although to be honest, nobody cares about Windows Phone except Nokia which is fine since they’re the only one building the extremely amazing Windows Smartphones with amazing software to back it. To close the gap even more, Microsoft bought the Device business of Nokia, so we can expect an even deeper integration. Where Android can be pushed in all directions by the device makers and carriers, Microsoft has the final word over the OS; from the look to the minimum required buttons each device should have. Because of that, the Windows Phone is extremely optimized, running as fast as an iPhone or flagship Android-based device for a mere 100$ with devices like the Nokia Lumia 520. Yes, a 100$ phone, 1/8 the price of your iPhone and running as fast. You can customize your phone more than an iPhone, but far from what Android is offering you. We’ll get into that in a moment. Microsoft has a great integration with their first party products and business like Xbox (which includes Gaming, Music and Video), Office, SkyDrive, Bing, etc. Like Google most of those services are available on other platforms and devices, but Microsoft takes the lead here where even their Xbox Music service runs on iOS and Android. Where Windows Phone is struggling is with some crucial OS features that are unavailable and a lacking official app selection. There’s a lot of amazing third-party apps, but if you’re hoping to get Candy Crush or an official YouTube app, there’s a problem. On the tablet side of things, if we look at the Surface, Windows really shines with amazing side-by-side app multitasking, a Desktop when you fall back to working mode with a built-in Office and File Manager, an integrated kickstand, USB port, a cover that doubles as a keyboard and all of that cheaper than the iPad.
The big thing about Windows is the Live Tiles. Live Tiles are icons on steroids giving you easy glanceable information from the app icon itself without the need to open it. You can customize your Start Screen however you want from apps giving you updates, to a shortcut of a family member. This is the big differentiator of Windows, the ability to easily customize your Start Screen with a grid of constantly moving and flowing information.
MY PERSONAL VIEW
If you ask me, and this is entirely me here, I’m a Windows guy. Microsoft Fanboy you may say, but you need to understand that apps are excessively pointless for me. As I am writing this, my main phone that’s comfortably sitting next to my keyboard is an HP/Palm Pre 3 without any apps. Apps are not important for me if the core stuff isn’t there. Snapchat is pointless since I can email a photo and the concept and security of the app is broken. Instagram is stupid since I have no intention to share publicly any photo when I have Facebook to share directly with the people that actually matters to me. iMessage, FaceTime, BBM, Hangouts, etc. are complete crap when every single platform has Skype and every single phone has SMS and every single person I know has Facebook with the damn messaging; why waste time wondering if they have that particular messing app when you can text or send a FB message. I personally don’t like apps. The phone experience and integration/flexibility needs to be top-notch for me. I love the Windows Phone because of the people and messaging hubs and the way it syncs with my computer, my Office work, my Xbox Music and the tiles. I love my Surface Pro 2 too… but it’s a full computer so it doesn’t really count.
But that’s the personal opinion from a guy using an unreleased phone and a dead mobile OS. The truth is, subjectivity aside, Google’s Android (again, stock from the Nexus phones/tablets) is the best mobile OS right now on the planet and if it wasn’t for my excessive use of Microsoft services, I would jump on the Nexus 5 right away without any hesitation. The quality and finish is simply incredible and the flexibility you have is limitless. If you are looking for a tablet, yes all your apps may not be on it, but the list of features and the flexibility makes the Surface 2 an incredible tablet; I can’t overestimate how amazing it is to do more than two things at once on your tablet…. Play a game, chat on Facebook and browse the web… all at once!
There you go, we can now put all of this aside. You got an objective point of view for both OSes, my subjective point of view about them and my list of winners. Now, we need to point out the things that makes iOS successful and what makes it behind the competition. Part 2 coming soon!
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Images modified from Google, MyColorScreen, Nokia and Microsoft